Canberra Airport chief executive Stephen Byron is urging Queensland and South Australia to allow direct flights and travel exemptions for Canberrans, despite border closures in the two states.
Mr Byron wrote to the premiers of the two states on Tuesday, urging travel between Canberra and Brisbane as well as Canberra and Adelaide, telling them the ACT was free of coronavirus.
Mr Byron is urging flights to begin by the school holidays, suggesting June 8 as the day to begin, aligning with stage 2 of the lockdown easing.
He described it as "an incremental step which would allow the restart of domestic interstate tourism" while not exposing the two states to the risk of fully reopening their borders.
"Canberra and the ACT have remained COVID-19 free from new cases for 15 days and have only had one case in the five days before that," he told Annastacia Palaszczuk in Queensland and Steven Marshall in South Australia.
"Moreover, none of the cases in the ACT have been through community transmission - they have all occurred through international arrivals."
He said Canberrans should be able to apply for an exemption from the 14-day quarantine rule, allowing authorities to make case-by-case decisions, in the same way exemptions were granted for fly-in-fly-out workers and people needing to travel for compassionate reasons.
"It isn't too much of a burden," Mr Byron said. "We're only talking about a couple of hundred people a day maximum and it is an incremental way to start getting jobs back."
There are just 20 return flights a week from Canberra Airport at the moment - Qantas operating five apiece to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, with very few on the Brisbane flight, Virgin operating three to Melbourne, and Pelican operating two to Newcastle.
Canberra Airport's aeronautical revenue had been reduced effectively to zero as a result of the lockdown, he said. Staff had been stood down across catering, baggage handling and security contractors.
The airport employed 200 people directly, none of whom had been stood down. Some were on annual leave and others had been redeployed. Staff were receiving the JobKeeper wage subsidy, he said.
He was hopeful that the easing of restrictions and the beginning of interstate travel would bring the start of a turnaround for the airport.
"The ACT and Canberra are not a COVID-19 hotspot as identified by your government," he told the premiers.
"There is much demand from business between our two cities and states and there is also significant demand from the desire to visit friends and relatives between our two regions."
But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk held firm on border closures on Wednesday.
"In our roadmap it says very clearly (that) in July, everything going well - fingers crossed - that Queenslanders will be able to move right throughout Queensland," she said.
"NSW and Victoria have that community transmission and they have to get that under control before we allow visitors to come here and I'm sorry for that."
Queensland's chief health officer, Jeanette Young, said the state must "hold firm" and manage its borders very carefully, AAP reports.
"The very, very earliest, and only if everything went absolutely perfectly, we might be able to think about opening up our border in July," she said.
"If the tourism industry wants a more realistic scenario they should be preparing for September."
Mr Marshall also suggested border closures would remain in South Australia.
"We don't want to give up on all the hard-earned gains we have made," he said on Sunday, according to local media. "We don't have any intention of opening up our borders at the moment. That may change later in the year."